Minnesota winters can be hard to get through if you aren’t a snow sports person. I often find myself doing the same old thing at the gym for months on end. When summer rolls around, I can’t wait to get outside to enjoy a wide variety of activities. I very rarely find myself in the gym when the weather turns nice enough for the whole world to be a gym!
Take Advantage of Your Local Playground
For strength training, one of my favorite workouts is going to the local park. Have you ever used playground equipment to get a good, full-body workout? You can do step-ups onto a bench or the steps of a playground to work your quadriceps and glutes, then switch to heel raises to hit the calves. Find a bench in the grass, lie down with your feet on the bench and raise to a bridge to activate your hamstrings, glutes, and core muscles.
Next up, it’s time to work arms, chest, and back. Try some pull-ups on the monkey bars (I help myself with my legs as for the life of me, I’ve never been able to do a pull-up). Go back to a step or bench to do an incline push-up, then turn around and do some dips/triceps push-ups. Throw caution to the wind and cross those monkey bars for a fun upper body and core workout! Who needs a gym when all the equipment you need is just down the road?!
When you’re heading outside for a summer workout, be sure to keep a couple of things in mind. Make sure you’re staying hydrated. If you’re concerned about fluid loss, weigh yourself right before starting a workout and again right after. If you’ve lost much weight, you weren’t drinking enough. My usual strategy is to sip on water regularly. If it’s a long workout, I carry some nutrition, too. And don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun! While I do use sunscreen, I’ve really come to appreciate clothes that have protection built-in. This way you don’t have to worry about sweating your sunscreen off, or having it wear off when you’re in the water.
Get Creative with Cardio
Summer opens up loads of options for cardio exercise outside as well. As someone who participates in triathlons, I tend to find myself spending a lot of time swimming, biking, and running. There really are so many great options! As a family, we often find ourselves inline skating (yes, they still sell these 1990’s gems in stores). A hike in the woods can also be a great way to get the heart rate up and enjoy the outdoors. Right now, at the end of my pregnancy, I find myself doing more walking than anything.
Keep It Up
Finally, the best advice I ever got regarding exercise was when one of my professors told our class that “the best exercise is the one you will do.” I’ve used this advice with my patients and myself. Consistency is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle! A 10-mile bike ride is way better than hating the idea of going for a run so much that you talk yourself out of doing any workout. Do you have a favorite outdoor summer workout? Let us know in the comments!